The aims of the Polonophiles in Great Britain : 1830-1840



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When news of the Polish revolution against Russia reached England in 1830, British politicians and intellectuals showed a keen interest in assisting the Poles and their cause. Inspired by the Romanticism of that era and influenced by the anti-Russian sentiment—Russophobia, the British Polonophiles pleaded the Polish cause in literature and in Parliament. However, before they had organized their plans for assistance Poland had been overwhelmed by Russia. By 1832 the hope for political intervention had waned considerably but the humanitarian interest in Poland and its people had grown stronger. Thomas Campbell organized the Literary Association of the Friends of Poland to alert the British to Poland's history and fate. He was joined in his endeavors by Lord Dudley Coutts Stuart, the Earl of Harrowby, Wentworth Beaumont and leading members of the Radical Bloc in Parliament. When Polish refugees began to arrive in Great Britain by 1833, the Polonophiles held fêtes and other charity functions to assist the needs of the exiles. However, by 1834 private charity proved insufficient as the number of refugees grew. That year polonophilic influence was sufficiently powerful to bring pressure on Parliament to grant an annual sum of £10,000 to aid the Poles in Great Britain. To many of the Polish exiles, the United Kingdom represented a transient phase of their emigration, however, there were others who settled there and established themselves in business or a profession. London, Portsmouth, Hull, Edinburgh, and Glasgow were not only the centers of pro-Polish activities but also the cities where many Poles found employment and a permanent home. However, by the 1840's England drew closer to Russia. A new cordiality between the two countries marked the end of Russophobia and a noticeable indifference towards the Polish cause resulted. Although the Literary Association continued its humanitarian and literary endeavors on a limited scale, the Polish cause was already buried in oblivion.



History, Poland, Great Britain, Nineteenth century, Literary Association of the Friends of Poland (London, England)